A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

It’s Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter

12/13/2013 @ 4:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler34 COMMENTS

Its Not a Matter of If, But When Ducati Builds a Scooter Vittoriano Guareschi Ducati Corse Scott Jones 635x423

The rumors about a Ducati Scooter for the next model year are hitting the internet hard lately, and that is perhaps unsurprising. Ducati’s sales stalled in the third quarter of this year, and the Italian motorcycle company at this point in time is simply trying to finish 2013 on par with its 2012 success.

There is also the fact that Audi AG now owns Ducati Motor Holding, and would like to see the ~44,000 unit company bump its figures into the six-figure territory, and help its German owner take a certain Bavarian brand head-on in the two and four-wheeled industries.

The current slate of internet conjecture about a high-performance maxi-scooter, along the same lines as the Yamaha TMAX, appear to be just that: conjecture. The cold weather of the off-season, and slow news days that stem from it, serve only to fuel this sort of speculation, but that is not to say that these rumors aren’t without a grain of truth.

We already know that 2014 will see the debut of the Ducati Scrambler, which will eventually be Ducati’s foray into the small-displacement marketplace. With many of the Japanese OEMs, now along with European brands like KTM and Triumph, taking the under 500cc market more seriously, the only real holdouts in the motorcycle industry are BMW and Ducati.

It says something when even Harley-Davidson is getting in on the small-displacement / developing-nation two-wheel market trend with a purpose-built machine.

The writing is on the wall for Ducati to build its own small displacement machines, and yes even a scooter. The Bologna Brand of course will stamp its own unique flare on the two-wheeler. It will be exclusive, it will feature timeless Italian lines in its design, and it will be centered around performance — this much we can count upon.

Similar to how Ducati built a bridge, with bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada, and finally the Diavel, to move from a sport bike brand into a well-rounded brand of performance motorcycles, the Ducati Scrambler will be a point of genesis for a similar push into small-displacement machines.

The expectation is that the Scrambler will be Ducati’s first modern model not to be built in Bologna, and that the air-cooled machine will be geared to sell primarily outside of Europe and North America (we would be surprised if those markets didn’t get the Scrambler as well though).

Ducati seems set to repurpose a two-valve motor from the Monster series for the Scrambler’s power plant, but at some point the Italians with have to design a smaller purpose-built engine, possibly a single-cylinder for markets like India, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.

While the potential sales volume of these machines could certainly justify a break from Ducati’s current “multiple bikes from the same engine” design philosophy, it is not hard to imagine a progression into how Ducati’s small-displacement engines could find their way into different chassis — like a scooter, for instance.

Just like the markets of emerging countries, the sales potential in the small-displacement realm can no longer be ignored by the large OEM brands in developed markets. This means the matter of Ducati building scooter is not one of if, but instead is one of when. Will that “when” be 2014? That remains to be seen, though we think not.

Ducati hasn’t built the foundation for that bridge yet; and besides, a change of that magnitude would be felt all the way down the rumormill pipe at this point — Bologna just isn’t that good at keeping secrets. Could we see a Ducati scooter in five years’ time though? That sounds more like a guarantee than speculation.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    Jensen, dont tempt us with a picture like this without an explanation of what were looking at…is it a one off scooter ? or is this something to come ? I like it but dont know what the heck it really is.

  2. Bruce says:

    The scooter pictured is a Malaguti Phantom F12R 50cc (I believe)

  3. Tim, if I had an actual picture of a Ducati-made scooter, the article would have read a bit different, and MCN would already be ripping the photo off as another “exclusive” on their site. Like Bruce pointed out, it’s just the team-branded scooter for MotoGP.

  4. TexusTIm says:

    O I see …sorry… it looks really cool.

  5. kww says:

    I’m sorry but with Euro emissions being what they are, I don’t think they will do an air cooled anything if it is a new design engine.

  6. ML says:

    whats next? Bicycles and skateboards?

  7. froryde says:

    @ ML – they already have Ducati branded bicycles (made by Bianchi) and don’t underestimate Bologna when it comes to brand whoring…

    I just hope they don’t stoop down to HD levels of doos, rags, and pleather halloween pirate costumes.

  8. BBQdog says:

    Bah, scooter ?? Let them build a nice light Supermono. As promissed once …

  9. starmag says:

    Ducati scooter. Seems wrong just to say it. And I’m not even Ducatisti.

  10. Brian says:

    @Froryde, while Ducati’s merchandise may not be as over the top as HD, they still do offer such gems as gaudy track (running) outfits, and shorty red-white-green Ducati bathing suits. Yuck.

    Regarding scooters I say bring em on. Any opportunity to get more people riding on two wheels is okay with me. Lots of people love to bash small displacements and scooters, but these are “gateway drugs” to get people hooked. Ducati would add that Italian flair too. It seems to work for aprilia.

  11. Kennon says:

    Ducati now use Rieju RS sport 50LC scooters as pitbikes they’re spanish built scooters using a minarelli engine as malaguti died out a few years back now.

  12. ML says:

    @froryde – I know, right? I can’t wait for my ducati branded espresso machine and alarm clock!

  13. JoeD says:

    Before motorcycles there were radios.

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Let them build a nice light Supermono.”

    Scootermono, hows that grab ya…?

  15. Rick says:

    Makes sense since their GP bike is a scooter…

  16. Nickster says:

    @Froryde, I work at a dealership and felt compelled to remind you that Ducati already offers everything from plush toys to bathrobes, beach towels, scarves, flags, bikinis, iPhone covers (I have one, it’s really cool), lighters, bandanas (for the pirates), etc. Example here: http://store.ducatiusa.com/p/ducati-corse-plush-dog-large/apparel_product-type_accessories?pp=20

    Ducati seems to be losing relevancy in the marketplace since the Audi buyout. Lack of leadership perhaps. I think this Scooter rumor is fluff. Ducati seems to be taking the opposite approach, building premium large displacement bikes and losing the attention younger consumers.

  17. IseeDumbppl says:

    WHO CARES!!!

  18. Jw says:

    Harley Davidson lost their way when they started making beer, cigarettes and china made wall clocks sold at Sears. Becoming more a brand than a bike. Focusing on happy share holders rather than improving the core product.

    I hope Ducati will stay true

  19. smiler says:

    Sensible really. Difficult for the Chinese to copy as well which is the most important consideration. 300-500 cc naked and sports bike. Job done.
    However I just wish they would get their racing dept sorted.

  20. Looter says:

    The Chinese already have a copy called Peking Duc! But it doesn’t have a single sided swing arm. Ha!
    On a lighter note, why doesn’t Bologna just give into the smaller displacement bike market and take on KTM and the Japanese?

  21. Ducman says:

    Small displacement scooters scares the bejesus out of me. I would buy a performance orientated scooter if there was one that does not resemble a barge. I dig the convenience of a scooter for commuting and short touring trips. The BMW C-series scooters are very tempting but overall suffers from bland styling. I think Ducati can inject some serious fun into a scooter – sexy styling, sharp handling, torquey motor and top end brakes and suspension.

  22. meatspin says:

    had a seller on CL trying to sell Brio. It looked pretty cool. I know a lot of current ducati owners have no idea they sold a scooter at one time.

    I think a small scooter would sell well. Anything to keep me out of public transportation would suit me well.

  23. TexusTim says:

    well i would love to have a bad ass scooter for a pitbike…of course I would have to “brand” like a Honda…@ dumbppl…we care a little about anything two wheels…do you have a thorn in your foot bro ?

  24. Andrew says:

    You mean make *another* scooter. Ducati has two in their history, that I know of. The Cruiser 175 in the 1950s, and the Brio in the 1960s. And they aren’t unusual by having scooters in their past, as Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BMW, and even KTM all do as well, with scooters like the HD Topper, Triumph Tina & Tigress, BMW C1 and new range, and KTM Mirabel & Ponny all in their former lineups.

    For these brands to start building scooters now isn’t heresy, it’s history. And good business.

  25. Norm G. says:

    I don’t so much as see them building a scooter as I see them building another single and then spinning of a few different models (scooter being one). it’s something that you can be sure they’ve already discussed long ago and drew up sketches on. it’s just been sitting on the back burner waiting for the green light so they can then make it seem like they just pulled it out of their asses.

    remember, this is the niche business of motorcycling, an all street bike company like ducati doesn’t have a lot of cards to play (painfully aware this). they can’t give you everything all at once. they could’ve easily built a 250cc scooter and a 500cc supermono years ago, but some things/ideas have to be held back… otherwise they would have nothing (jack squat) to offer you in future model years. at which point, we would claim they are stagnating and not being fresh and innovative. damned if they do, damned if they don’t. such is the nature of “fan-sumers” and devaluing mentalities.

  26. KSW says:

    ML,

    I just shot a picture of a Ducati clock on the shelf at Rick Lamberts in Fort Lauderdale. I don’t know how to add a pic to a post though. It was antique and sat next to a collection of Ducati books.

    What is with all the scooter haters? There are 80 year old women in Asia who would leave you at the light and being carrying a weeks worth of grocery’s in one arm. Is it that you can’t stand being passed by a scooter?

  27. Jaybond says:

    Mr Ducati, pls bring back 600SS and Supermono!!

  28. Motoscuzzy says:

    I thought all Ducatis were scooters…. I’m waiting for their Motorclothes, heh, heh, heh!!!

  29. Wayne Thomas says:

    People just don’t get economics. Porsche needed increased cash flow (not just profit) in order to not only keep operations going, but to also increase revenue to aid in R&D. Ducati is doing to same logical thing. How many dreamers come along promising to make the next best super car only to make maybe a prototype (and if lucky, sell a handful of models) only to disappear within a few years? Ducati is making a smart business decision in finding revenue streams that are more constant.

  30. paulus says:

    Agree with Mr Thomas

    It is also to build brand loyalty from an early age. Some of today’s scooter riders go on to buy bigger bikes in the future.

  31. TRL says:

    A scooter(ish) product is absolutely at the core of Ducati’s DNA. It’s always been a little strange that as a company in the Land of Scooters they haven’t regularly offered one.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ducati_Cucciolo

  32. David says:

    Why Ducati didn’t buy Malaguti when they went into receivership is beyond me. It’s a perfect fit, expands their brand nicely and the Phantom that Vito is on is badass!

    What are they waiting for?

  33. ZootCadiilac says:

    I’d love a scooter from Ducati. Being about the only way to get around the paddock it would be nice to have a brand bike. Be better than the Ducati UK scooter that I was supplied with for the Silverstone GP this year. The one that completely broke down at the paddock entrance and had to be pushed back to Ducati’s offices the complete other side and two bridges away from the scooter. Yeah, I’m looking at you Peugot.

    Scooters are fast becoming the first motorised transport available to youth’s in the UK. I’d be happy to see a Ducati made vehicle.